STAFF REVIEW of Battlezone Gold Edition (Xbox One)

Thursday, May 31, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Battlezone Gold Edition Box art Back in 1980 I wasn't even 5 yet, however, I was already getting into gaming. The Atari system was running wild and one of their best games available was Battlezone. Taking the digital frontier by storm, you were tasked with piloting a combat tank against a seemingly unstoppable AI force, in an effort to save humanity. Now, almost 40 years later (yes you read that correctly), Rebellion has dusted off this classic gem and has refitted the game, bringing Battlezone into the modern age. So how does this new Battlezone game contend with its new modern kicks? What tricks does Rebellion have up its sleeves to entice us to keep playing this game? Why in the name of everything that is holy is the game priced at $34.99? All these questions and more will be answered as you read on!

The premise behind such glorified tank combat comes from the tried and true storyline where man invents AI, AI obviously turns evil (notice very few games ever have AI that isn't evil?) and begins to wipe out humanity which forces them underground. With the AI core resting deep in the heart of a volcano, it’s your task to make sure humans will see another day. It's up to you to pilot your tank and destroy the AI core. In order to accomplish this however you will need to fight your way through a literal army of enemy tanks, aircraft and turrets to deplete the power level of the AI army (which grows almost continuously) by destroying generators along the way (should you choose to do so). While the story is decent, it's not something that you need to concern yourself with because in Battlezone, the story is just there for an objective filler for you.

As you begin, you have your traditional fare of light, medium and heavy tanks at your disposal. Each one carries with it an advantage and disadvantage as well. Light tanks are quick but can be taken apart relatively easy while heavy tanks are, you guessed it, slow but hit like a runaway freight train. The same variety you have also applies to your enemies as well. You will have small little scout ships that can fire laser attacks that will damage you slightly, medium tanks that lob easily dodged cannon fire but take a few rounds to drop, and heavy tanks that can end your run with 2-3 shots top, also having shields you have to penetrate before blowing them up. This whole balancing system is central to the game and therefore critical that you rationalize the consequences of your choice.

While the number of tanks varies between 3 different weight classes, Rebellion has gone to great lengths to pack a tank's worth of upgrades and customizations within the game. For starters, you can customize the outside and cockpit with varying styles of camouflage, and while you start out with a lot, you'll quickly notice that there is so much more to unlock. While picking what your tank will look like, you can also look at your tank's stats will also notice that there is a long list of stats that you have the opportunity to upgrade. Speed, power, shields and ammo capacity can be upgraded, so it's in your best interest to kill everything that is shooting at you.

You get points for your upgrading system by completing missions and collecting resources from fallen enemies. While you may run out of ammo occasionally, you can collect dropped munitions resupplies from your foes which will refill all weapons you have on board. Don't be afraid though to spend some of your points on purchasing other lives. Sometimes the best offense is to have another tank ready to go should yours get destroyed. Without question, Rebellion has done a tremendous job packing in all the customization options at your disposal and is the very heart of Battlezone.

Earlier you read my writings about you having to destroy an AI core inside a volcano, and you're probably asking: "how do I get to a volcano?". Well the answer is you must navigate through a honeycomb map layout that is filled with side missions of multiple types, shield generators, enemy bases, supply outposts and even your nemesis. What is your nemesis? Well should you take your sweet time and allow the AI power to climb to a new level, a nemesis will be spawned. Think of these things like the ultimate tank killing machine that the AI spawns to end your life. These nemesis enemies should be avoided at all costs, but face one and you're in for one hell of a fight.

To soften up the AI core's defenses you will have to go after the corresponding shield generators. I almost forgot, while you're on your level you may see a white object indicator on your radar, so moving your tank near these white structures will provide you with different types of bonuses. You may see a point increase, lessen the enemy's defenses or even unlock new blueprints for some new firepower!

To move your tank towards these objectives and enemies, you have to use the Left Stick to move your tank forward, back, left and right, and the Right Stick to move your cannon up and down and rotate. By learning how to accurately maneuver the tank you choose, this will go a long way in preserving your life. The Left Trigger will act as a boost for your tank but, in doing so, will dramatically drain the shield of your tank. While the LT acts as a boost, the Right Trigger fires the weapon you selected with the X button. Should you have a weapon that needs a few seconds to lock on, then you must hold RT down until the targeting reticle goes green and then let go. Be aware of your surroundings though, you can lock on first, then dart behind a pillar to recover or hide for a few, and then pop out and launch your artillery at your target. When in combat you also need to be aware of combat tactics.

For example, should you notice your enemies shooting at you with lobbed fire or unguided rockets from a distance, then close the gap quickly and fire, fire, fire! This will have their rounds sail overhead while your shots hit and render the tank destroyed. Now on the flip side of the coin, if you have a heavy tank that will obliterate you up close, use your lock on weapons from a distance and don't stop firing while dodging the charged shots of a massive tank. Knowing how to adapt on a fluid and ever-changing battle will be vital in your survival.

While this can all seem complicated at first, the learning curve is fairly low so those who wish to jump right in can get a thrilling experience and quickly master the skills needed to win the game. Rebellion though did allow another nice bonus feature added into Battlezone, the ability to take on the game with up to 3 other players. So now you can have your own 4-person tank squad to go wrecking through the game which makes the game much easier to manage.

Remember, Battlezone used to be an Atari game back in 1980 and it involved black backgrounds with green outlined shapes that were supposed to pass as futuristic tanks. Now though, Battlezone is done in a 4K Classic Tron type feel (enemies are red, friendlies are blue) that looks stunning. Incredible digital frontiers that would have made Flynn himself tip his hat in admiration are your playgrounds throughout Battlezone. Coupled with .

Before I wrap this up, I want to take a moment to personally thank Rebellion for, what I think is, the best addition to their modern take on Battlezone, the original game. Yes folks, when you buy Battlezone you get not only this amazing and entertaining modern take on the classic, but also the classic itself. Having personally grown up with that Atari cartridge, it holds a special meaning to me. Having included it, as you have, has sent me on a personal journey of memories back when my father was alive, and I can't thank you enough.

For $34.99 you may be thinking that Battlezone is a bit overpriced, and you would be quite mistaken. When your customizable campaign length (short-medium-long) means you can have a campaign that takes you less than a few hours, or a campaign that spans actual days, Battlezone offers a lot of content and customization for everyone and that's the soul of this release, customization. From customizing your tank, to your campaign, to your multiplayer/single player experience, and so on, Battlezone offers you almost too many choices. However, that is the strength of the game and it works brilliantly. Battlezone is easily a must have purchase if you enjoy tank combat, arena combat, or are a fan of the classic Battlezone from 1980. While $34.99 is a steep price to pay for a remake of a 40-year-old game, Rebellion has made it worth every penny.

Overall: 8.3 / 10
Gameplay: 8.4 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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